India Bids Farewell to Tourism Leader
Rest in Peace B. Venkataraman
The passing away of B. Venkataraman in Delhi, India, on October 20 removes from the scene an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer, who headed the Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry during the time of the Asian Games, when tourism was just starting to get much-needed attention and when new hotel projects were seeing the light of the day.
This correspondent met the soft-spoken articulate Orissa cadre officer at the launch of the Surya hotel in Friends Colony, whose owners, the Malhotra family, obviously knew the value of tourism and what the Secretary could do for it.
Venkataraman came to tourism after a stint as Chief Secretary in Orissa. In an address to industry leaders he pointed out that the situation in the far-away eastern state was different from the plush and luxury life of the players in the capital. He left the message that ground realities should be kept in mind in promoting tourism, for which he no doubt played an important part in those formative years.
His love and contribution to the art and architecture world is well known, with several books pon Cholas and related subjects. His wife, Leela, is a well-known dance critic.
He was 95 at the time of his death, and he will be remembered by old timers who keep tabs on the growth of the travel industry, which is now much in focus.
People like Inder Sharma of Sita, who passed away recently, and Subhash Goyal of Stic, were among those who interacted with the scholar bureaucrat, who never let his position stand in the way of personal and professional relations.